4 April 1997

Sunflowers can beat dry spring

THINK sunflowers rather than spring rape or linseed if you want to avoid poor establishment in a dry spring, says ADAS Boxworth-based Sarah Cook, secretary of the UK Sunflower Association.

Sow from mid-April to early May, 5-6cm (2-2.4in) deep into moisture and roll after drilling, she advises. The crop should be up within 10-12 days if soil temperature is about 7C (45F).

Low input sunflowers, for crushing or bird seed, can yield 2t/ha (16cwt/acre), says Dr Cook. Cargill, Novartis NK Seeds and other UK firms offer suitable varieties.n